Aerospace Innovation Center Planned For Atlantic County, NJ

New Jersey's fifth Strategic Innovation Center, the Aerospace Innovation Center will support aerospace research, innovation. Plus, TripWorks approved for NJ Innovation Evergreen Fund; 1888 Studios approved for Aspire Tax Credits 

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and the Atlantic County Improvement Authority (ACIA) have launched the Aerospace Innovation Center (AIC), a Strategic Innovation Center (SIC) located in Atlantic County that will focus on the aerospace industry. It will be the fifth SIC in New Jersey and the first with a focus on aerospace innovation.

Located in the National Aerospace Research & Technology Park (NARTP) in Egg Harbor Township, the AIC will provide state-of-the-art aerospace research spaces, high-speed connectivity to the FAA William J. Hughes Center for Advanced Aerospace data systems and laboratories, and co-working and studio spaces that are ideal for collaboration and innovation. The AIC will be the second of seven planned buildings within the aerospace innovation hub. Building One first opened in June 2019 and achieved full occupancy in January 2020.

“As the state’s fifth Strategic Innovation Center, the Aerospace Innovation Center will give budding students and entrepreneurs access to state-of-the-art equipment and opportunities to collaborate with experts in the field. This exciting venture solidifies New Jersey as the place to be when it comes to innovation and research.”

— Governor Phil Murphy

“Since taking office, it has been my goal to ensure New Jersey is at the forefront of innovation and technology development, including aerospace engineering,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “As the state’s fifth Strategic Innovation Center, the Aerospace Innovation Center will give budding students and entrepreneurs access to state-of-the-art equipment and opportunities to collaborate with experts in the field. This exciting venture solidifies New Jersey as the place to be when it comes to innovation and research.”

The NJEDA and ACIA have signed a non-binding letter of intent to form a two-member limited liability company which will plan, develop, construct, and manage the innovation hub. ACIA, in partnership with the NARTP and Atlantic County Economic Alliance (ACEA), will contribute $10.5 million dollars in funding to construct the innovation center, while the NJEDA will invest $8 million. Construction for the innovation center is underway and is expected to be completed in October 2025. The Center is expected to be fully operational in January 2026. ACIA is managing the construction of the facility and NARTP will manage the AIC’s operations.

“Governor Murphy is committed to growing New Jersey’s innovation economy by investing in diverse industries and providing entrepreneurs with access to the resources needed to grow and scale their business,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Powered by NJEDA’s Strategic Innovation Center program, and paired with Atlantic County’s deeps roots in aerospace, the Aerospace Innovation Center will drive the creation of new technologies that in turn will create jobs and support long-term, sustainable economic growth across the state.”

The AIC intends to partner with New Jersey institutions of higher education, including Stockton University, Rowan University, and Rutgers School of Engineering. The AIC also intends to partner with world-class aeronautical institutions such as Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the National Institute of Aerospace, offering aerospace students hands-on experiences to train within their field.

NARTP Building One, which opened officially in June 2020 and is fully occupied, has several notable tenants, including General Dynamics Info Tech., Woolpert Engineering, Signature Scientific, and an FAA remote lab. Several companies have also signed letters of interest in locating in the AIC.

“The Aerospace Innovation Center will create new and exciting opportunities for students and entrepreneurs in Atlantic County and across South Jersey,” said NJEDA Chief Transformation Officer Kathleen Coviello. “The AIC’s unique proximity to the Atlantic City International Airport and other aerospace industry leaders will unlock opportunities for innovators to pursue their research, testing, and development of aerospace technologies.”

TripWorks, Inc. Approved For NJ Innovation Evergreen Fund

Morristown-based TripWorks, Inc. has been approved for investment from the New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund (NJIEF), based on an application submitted by Tech Council Ventures, LLC for an initial Qualified Investment of $1.5 million.

The NJIEF, launched in 2022, increases access to strategic resources and venture capital in New Jersey. Under the NJIEF, the state acts as an equity investor in startups, deploying up to $600 million into companies alongside professional venture capital groups. Thefund currently has over $40 million available and is expected to use this to fund initial investments into six to 10 high-growth businesses. The NJEDA is planning for another tax credit auction in 2025 to raise additional capital for further investment.

“This grant — coupled with recognition and backing from industry-leading sources like Arival — will allow us to continue to invest in the product and continue our rapid growth.”

— Aaron Fessler, Founder/CEO, TripWorks

TripWorks, Inc. is a software platform that enables tour and activity operators to offer a fully digital end-to-end booking, reservation, and payment system to their customers. By utilizing a capital-efficient and reliable approach, TripWorks has grown to over 150 tour operators in the U.S. and internationally.

“Tour and activity operators face a market saturated with a hodgepodge of antiquated and immature solutions, making it difficult for business owners to successfully run their business,” said Aaron Fessler, Founder and CEO of TripWorks. “TripWorks changes that dynamic for tour operators, thanks to world class, easy-to-use, enterprise-grade software that helps business owners grow their revenue and easily operate. Our team already has traction in this market with customer wins, and a track record of innovation. We’re excited to see what’s next. This grant — coupled with recognition and backing from industry-leading sources like Arival — will allow us to continue to invest in the product and continue our rapid growth.”

Tech Council Ventures, LLC is one of 13 Qualified Venture Firms (QVF) approved to date to access up to $12.5 million annually from the NJIEF to co-invest in innovative, high-growth New Jersey-based businesses. Founded in 2000, Tech Council Ventures invests in and supports innovative, New Jersey-based entrepreneurs and companies. The firm serves on the NJEDA’s Technology Advisory Board, has participated in New Jersey Founders and Funders events, and has utilized the Angel Investor Tax Credit program.

Major Film Studio Project Approved For Aspire Tax Credits

1888 Studios in Bayonne has been approved for tax credits under NJEDA’s Aspire Program. The studio, developed by Togus Urban Renewal, will be the largest and first campus-style film and television studio facility in the Northeast. It will occupy 58 acres of land just minutes from New York City.

“1888 Studios exemplifies the type of projects that are being attracted to New Jersey by Governor Murphy’s support for film and digital media production. The incomparable resources and logistical and artistic assets New Jersey offers are contributing to the industry’s momentum in the state, creating thousands of jobs, and enhancing the revitalization of communities and small businesses,” said NJEDA CEO Sullivan. “Today’s approval under the Aspire Program ensures the continued development of this transformative project, which will provide countless opportunities for the city of Bayonne and further New Jersey’s standing as a national leader in film production.”

1888 Studios, New Jersey
1888 Studios Rendering (Graphic: Business Wire)

1888 Studios is considered a transformative project under the Aspire Program and was approved for an award of up to 50 percent of the total project cost, not to exceed $400 million. The development will contain 17 buildings encompassing over 1.5 million square feet of end-to-end film production services, including 23 mega-powered smart sound stages ranging from 18,000 to 60,000 square feet with 40- to 50-foot-high ceilings, more than 350,000 square feet of production support space, outdoor backlot space, amenities, office spaces, mills, lighting and grip facilities, a parking garage, and storage.

In addition to the studio space, the development will also include over five acres of public space, featuring a waterfront walkway adjacent to the Newark Bay and a public park. Construction is expected to be completed in 2026.

In May, the NJEDA designated 1888 Studios as a Film-Lease Partner Facility, which commits the developer to occupying the facility for at least five years and grants future tenants eligibility to apply for increased tax credits for projects filmed at the facility under the Film and Digital Media Tax Credit program.

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“Governor Murphy’s ambition to create good paying, lasting jobs in New Jersey communities and diversify the economy across the state remains the driving force behind the film industry’s expansion, which now includes the realization of 1888 Studios,” said Arpad “Arki” Busson, Chairman of Togus Urban Renewal. “New Jersey’s film industry growth strategy, centered on competitive film, television and digital media tax credits and the development of production facility infrastructure, continues to deliver enviable results in a challenging, competitive environment. On behalf of 1888 Studios, we are enormously honored to have the opportunity to contribute to New Jersey’s long term prosperity, which would not be possible without the support of Governor Murphy, Senator Raj Mukherji, Senator John McKeon, Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin and Mayor Jimmy Davis.”

Aspire is a place-based economic development program created under the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020 (ERA) to support mixed-use, transit-oriented development with tax credits to commercial and residential real estate development projects that have financing gaps. As a performance-based program, projects must certify that all commitments established at time of approval have been met before receiving their first disbursement of tax credits. 1888 Studios is the second transformative project approved under the new Aspire rules, which the NJEDA adopted in November 2023.

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